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N. Korea to mark new army founding day just before PyeongChang Olympics

2018/01/23 10:19

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SEOUL, Jan. 23 (Yonhap) -- North Korea said Tuesday that it has designated Feb. 8 as the new founding anniversary of its army and will prepare "practical" steps to mark the "historic" occasion, which will come one day before South Korea opens the Winter Olympic Games.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a report monitored in Seoul that it has changed the anniversary date of the establishment of the Korean People's Army (KPA), which previously fell on April 25.

"Feb. 8 will be marked as the Army-Building Day," the KCNA said. "The Cabinet and other relevant organs will take practical steps to significantly mark the founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army."

   The KCNA didn't provide details on what steps will be taken. It has been reported that the North might be preparing a large-scale military parade that will require mobilization of troops and diverse weaponry.

A South Korean government official said earlier that the mobilization of around 13,000 troops and some 200 pieces of equipment have been detected near an airport in Pyongyang for what appears to be a rehearsal for a military parade.

The KCNA, meanwhile, said that the North will mark April 25 as the anniversary of late leader Kim Il-sung's establishment of the "Korean People's Revolutionary Army," which is considered to be a prototype for its KPA.

The new Army-Building Day is just one day before South Korea is to host the Winter Olympics in its eastern town of PyeongChang. The North plans to join the Feb. 9-25 sporting event by sending athletes, an art troupe and officials.

North Korea's advance team wrapped up its two day stay in South Korea on Monday, after inspecting performance venues. South Korea will send its own inspection team to the North on Tuesday to inspect the venues where the two Koreas will hold joint cultural and sports events.

kokobj@yna.co.kr

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